Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links wrap up Kentucky basketball’s loss to Ohio State

Kentucky Wildcats forward Marcus Lee (00) grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic as Kentucky played Ohio State.
Kentucky Wildcats forward Marcus Lee (00) grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic as Kentucky played Ohio State. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Murray’s flurry is not enough as Cats fall to Buckeyes, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “The game was ugly, all right. But it was Jamal Murray, not Ulis, whose brilliant shooting nearly rescued the Cats. Murray made seven of eight three-point shots in a second half that saw Kentucky mount a furious rally. He finished with a career-high 33 points, 27 coming in the second half.”

John Calipari says Kentucky is not playing winning basketball, says my column. “Then when Kentucky is finally making some headway, chopping the Ohio State lead to seven points at 59-52, Lee misses a shot inside — but worse, Alex Poythress can’t hold the rebound. Calipari all but has a stroke on the UK sideline, waving his arms and punching the air furiously, while at the other end Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop scores to make it 61-52 Buckeyes.”

Ohio State out-efforts Kentucky, reports Dana O’Neil of “A year ago, the Cats found themselves being observers of their own game, playing without fire and passion before finally remembering how good they were to win going away. This team isn’t that team. It’s not nearly good enough to get by without trying hard. Teams sometimes can be victims of their own success, a new group presuming that life is easy because of the uniform it puts on, only to learn that the uniform doesn’t win games.”

Despite Murray’s efforts, UK falls short, writes Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. "I felt good out there today," Murray said. "Unfortunately, it was in a loss but as a team we need to figure out how to get wins in here. I felt good going into the game today. I still think I missed a lot of shots that I should have made, but I made up for it."

It’s the oddest result of the season so far, says Nicole Auerbach of USA Today. “How about lack of star power? For a second consecutive game, Skal Labissiere was essentially a non-factor. A week ago, he fouled out of Kentucky's game against Arizona State with zero points, zero rebounds, zero assists and one blocked shot. Against Ohio State, Labiessiere scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, while adding two rebounds.”

Ohio State stuns Brooklyn, reports Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch. “Postgame national-television interview complete, Keita Bates-Diop couldn’t wait to get to the visitors’ locker room at the Barclays Center in the CBS Sports Classic. Surrounded by team personnel and security, the Ohio State sophomore appeared to be floating as he waved and yelled to the diminutive scarlet-clad cheering section.”

Ohio State stuns the Cats, reports Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. “Ohio State led by 12 points at the half and by as many as 16 in the second half. It took a career-best performance from Jamal Murray just to get the Wildcats back close, and they actually made it a one-possession game in the final minutes before floundering late.”

Costly mistakes doom the Cats, writes Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports. “The flurry of miscues began when senior Alex Poythress missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 3:34 to go. It continued on Kentucky's next possession when freshman Skal Labissiere failed to go up strong enough to either convert a layup or draw a foul. Then sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis compounded that mistake by getting whistled for an intentional foul for wrapping up Kam Williams in transition rather than letting the Ohio State guard get an easy layup.”

Murray’s outburst not enough to save Kentucky, writes Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. “I think Cal did a tremendous job of creating different ways for him to score,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “He knew he had a hot hand and he got him open. I turned to the bench at one point and said, ‘Is there anybody that can guard him right now?’”

Kentucky basketball individual game-by-game stats in a Google Doc

Ohio State creates its own luck, writes Bill Landis of “Like guys hitting ridiculous shots they've only ever made in video games with the sliders turned all the way up to can't-miss mode. Or teams shooting way above their average from the foul line. Those things happened in some of Ohio State's five losses this season. The Buckeyes also played poorly. That's why they came to New York on Saturday with a .500 record.”